June 8, 2012 |
Nothing new in the world? Nothing left to discover? NASA would beg to differ. The discovery of an "enormous, off-the-charts" bloom of microscopic marine plants in the Arctic has floored scientists. And it confirms, if nothing else, that there are things on this planet not yet seen -- things that you "never, ever could have anticipated in a million years. " So says Paula Bontempi of NASA. An ocean biology and biogeochemistry program manager in Washington, Bontempi spoke with the Los Angeles Times on Friday morning about the discovery. Here's how it came about: Over the summers of 2010 and 2011, NASA's Icescape expedition was exploring the Arctic waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska.
March 20, 2013 |
Ladies and gentlemen, the Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system - or has it? Scientists are continuing to debate whether the lonesome craft has finally escaped the solar system after 35 years of travel or has simply entered a previously unknown region of solar influence. On Wednesday, a study published in Geophysical Research Letters , a journal of the American Geophysical Union, suggests that the Voyager spacecraft exited the heliosphere - that region of space dominated by solar winds and long considered to be the edge of the solar system - on Aug. 25, 2012.
July 7, 2012 |
Bipedal robots, in general, are a pretty stilted bunch. Their movements are overarticulated, they wobble, they topple, and when faced with an obstacle -- even one as slight as a slope change -- they often can't overcome it. But that may soon change. This week, researchers from the Univeristy of Arizona published a paper in the Journal of Neural Engineering that describes the development of a new type of robot legs that mimic the neuromuscular architecture of human walking.
September 4, 2013 |
Screaming at your teenagers to discipline them can make their behavior worse - even if you otherwise have a warm family relationship, researchers say. The effects were comparable to those in studies that focused on physical punishments, the researchers said. “From that we can infer that these results will last the same way that the effects of physical discipline do,” the lead researcher, Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement.
February 4, 2014 |
Up and down the West Coast, starfish are dying. Casualties of a mysterious disease known as seastar wasting syndrome, they are dying in Alaska, deteriorating in San Diego and disappearing from long stretches in between. Death from the disease is quick and icky. It begins with a small lesion on a starfish's body that rapidly develops into an infection the animal cannot fight. Over the course of the disease the starfish's legs might drop off, or even separate from the body and start to crawl away, as you can see in the PBS news story below.
February 1, 2013 |
Scientists have infused "life" into inanimate chemical compounds by flashing a blue-violet light that prompted them to assemble themselves into a crystal. The feat, described in a study published online Thursday by the journal Science, marks an important step toward creating "active" materials that can repair themselves, such as a smartphone screen that fixes its own cracks or a Kevlar vest that fills a hole made by a bullet, experts said. Showing that microscopic particles can be made to come together or break apart on their own "opens a new area for design and production of novel and moving structures," wrote the study authors, a team of physicists and chemists from New York University and Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
April 1, 2014 |
Happy April Fool's Day! Why not celebrate with a little humor from the world of science? No, that's not an April Fool's joke. It really IS possible to blend humor with science and math. The American Chemical Society proves it in the video above. You may find some of the jokes funnier than others. One of my favorites: “Never trust an atom - they make up everything.” There's another gem about two glasses of water concerned about the too-cool-for-school behavior of their ice-cube son. The punch line requires a junior-high understanding of chemistry.
September 21, 2010 |
The dark dust thrown up by human activity in the deserts of the Southwest hastens the melting of Rocky Mountain snow and ultimately reduces the amount of water flowing into the upper Colorado River by about 5%, scientists reported Monday. The lost water amounts to more than 250 billion gallons — enough to supply the Los Angeles region for 18 months, said study leader Thomas H. Painter, a snow hydrologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "That's a lot of water," said Painter, whose study was published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
December 4, 2010 |
Have scientists finally discovered the genetic fountain of youth? Hardly. But by creating a genetic switch that allows them to artificially age — and rejuvenate — lab mice, scientists have shown that it is possible to reverse some effects of aging in mammals. "It indicates there's a point of return if you remove the underlying cause of the aging," said Dr. Ronald DePinho, the molecular biologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School who led the study, published online this week in the journal Nature.
February 11, 2008 |
AS they seek to document and demystify one of life's great thrills, scientists have run across some real head-scratchers. How, for example, can they explain the fact that some men and women who are paralyzed and numb below the waist are able to have orgasms? How to explain the "orgasmic auras" that can descend at the onset of epileptic seizures -- sensations so pleasurable they prompt some patients to refuse antiseizure medication? And how on Earth to explain the case of the amputee who felt his orgasms centered in that missing foot?